Picture yourself in the no smoking section with tangerine trees and marmalade skies

Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 06:29 pm
‘Magic mushrooms’ help long-time smokers kick habit: study

Michelle Fay Cortez

Bloomberg News

Published Thursday, Sep. 11 2014, 5:34 AM EDT

Just two or three experiences with “magic mushrooms” helped a dozen long-term smokers quit, succeeding in a study where numerous other approaches failed.

The volunteers took a pill containing psilocybin, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in magic mushrooms, as part of a cognitive behavior therapy program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Six months later, 12 of the 15 participants remained smoke-free, according to the study results published today in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

Existing medicines like Pfizer Inc.’s Chantix, the most potent aid for smoking cessation, have a success rate of about 35 percent at six months. Nicotine patches and gums are less successful, said Matthew Johnson, a study research and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins. The results show unique promise in the first study ever of psilocybin for smoking and may lead to new approaches to treat other types of addiction, Johnson said.

“The rates of quitting were so high, twice as high as what you typically see with the gold standard medication,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is a very small study, but it’s an indication that something very strong is going on here. It answers the question of whether this is worth pursuing.”

The smoker study is among a variety of projects begun in the past few years to research the potential therapeutic use of hallucinogenics for such conditions as chronic headaches, cancer and depression.

Behavior Therapy

Because the psilocybin pill was given in combination with behavior modification therapy, including counseling and keeping a journal, it’s not clear how much of the benefit for the smokers came from the hallucinogen. Future studies are being planned to include a comparison group who won’t receive the mind-altering compound, and all participants will get brain scans to help researchers pinpoint and study where the effect occurs.

A wide range of volunteers took part in the study, including a teacher, a lawyer and a museum worker. They were all more interested in quitting smoking than in taking a psychedelic drug, Johnson said. Conducting the research in a carefully controlled environment allowed the investigators to protect the volunteers and avoid the acute anxiety that can occur, the experience that’s generally known as a “bad trip,” he said.

The therapy occurred over two or three sessions. Volunteers came to a laboratory set up like a living room, took a 20 milligram pill of psilocybin, covered their eyes and relaxed with music for several hours as the psychedelic effect took hold. Those who had a transcendent experience, where people say they went into a mystical state that helped them feel unity with themselves and the universe, tended to have more success, the researchers said.

Second Dose

All the volunteers returned two weeks later for another round with a higher dose of the drug. They were all offered a third experience, though several declined, Johnson said. The treatment doesn’t involve swapping one drug for another, said Johnson, who pointed out that hallucinogens aren’t addictive.

“The last thing people want to do is use this again the next day,” Johnson said. “This is outside the box. When a typical drug goes in the body it has an effect, and when it leaves the body the effect is gone. The fascinating thing is that the experiences with these hallucinogenic compounds can change people.”

Emphasis mine.

I kinda love the fact that having a mystical experience might make a person stop smoking (or stop whatever addictive behavior causing them problems).

If this study holds up it could revolutionize rehab!

Anyone who has had, or had a friend or family member who has had a struggle with drug addiction should be loving this news.

I've read stories about studies that used mushrooms (and LSD) as a successful treatment for depression too.

And I've read about nicotine being studied for treating a variety of illness including Alzheimer's Disease and diabetes.

Of course, marijuana is available by prescription in most states now for the treatment of pain and nausea among other things.

I think this stuff is fascinating. Maybe you do too! That's why I posted it.

Would you be more comfortable taking medicine or a medicinal plant?
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 06:37 pm
Whatever works! Cool
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 06:54 pm
I think it would be great to go in for a medical treatment that included wearing a blindfold, listening to music, and opening yourself up to the universe.
0 Replies
Lustig Andrei
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 08:06 pm
I'd be interested to see how many of the quitters are still tobacco-free, say, a year from now. Quitting cigarettes is easy. I know people who've done it a dozen times. However, many go back to them in fairly short order.
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 08:43 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
I quit 37 years ago. I hope I don't decide to light up again.
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 08:48 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
That's really the key thing, isn't it?

I think this study only followed them for 6 months but they're designing more intensive studies.

It looks promising though.

It does make me wonder if getting religion might have the same affect.

I think the brain is a remarkable thing, even when it comes to addiction.

My grandma smoked Lucky Strike forever. One day the doctor told her to quit and she said "okay" and never smoked again.

My mom switched to e-cigs and never bought another regular cigarette. Then she just quit with the e-cigs. No big deal.

My dad had early onset Alzheimer's and just forgot he smoked. That's one of the ways we knew something was wrong.

My niece had a serious (really serious) drug addiction and one day she just quit.

Maybe my family is weirdly lucky when it comes to addiction. I don't know.

I know people who have struggled and never beat it. I know people young and old who died from their addictions.

Addiction is a complicated thing.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 08:53 pm
I quit (the last time) in 1982. You've gotten a head start on me.
I was at my clinic doc's yesterday, having a wee interview before she renewed my meds, and, while waiting later outside for the Albuquerque seniors freeride guy, had a conversation with a guy having a cig before going to see his doctor. He reminded me a lot of Dys - thin, stetson, good face, great eyes, cowboy manner..

I wasn't trying to get him to quit (hey, how annoying and not my beeswax), just said I used to smoke. He said he's down to 5 a day and has no interest in nicotine chewing gum, which I get.

Anyway, back in the day, the two times I quit, I just quit cold, and the second time it took.

Tangerine trees and marmalade skies might scare me.
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 09:10 pm
I'll add that my doc was, unusual for her, on the non-friendly grouchy side. I could have elicited it, but on review, don't think I caused it somehow. What is different from all the other years of visits is that she has lost about a hundred pounds. Maybe her comfort item in times of stress, food, has somewhat evaporated. That's no doubt a wild guess and may not apply, but it did occur to me.

I do remember, though, that when I did finally quit smoking, I found out I was calmer overall, whereas I had always thought cigs calmed me.
0 Replies
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:36 pm
I should probably explain that I was a two or three packer for twenty years when I did that quitting. A lot of those were left burning, but still..
0 Replies
Reply Fri 12 Sep, 2014 08:51 am
I wonder what the side effects are --- now these people become addicted to mushrooms or they grow a third leg or some such thing.
0 Replies

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